Things I shouldn't say.

Last night I had a great time talking to one of my best friends about life, the similar trials we each are facing, and how God is teaching us through all of this.  Two short thoughts have been sticking in my mind.

Parents: Stop complaining about your kids on Facebook.  Do you have any idea how many people would love to have your problems of sleepless nights, fussy babies, stained carpets, picky eaters, or sassy toddlers? Parenting is a blessing, and while we realize that it is a hard and often frustrating job, it can be extremely hurtful those struggling with infertility or who have lost children to hear you complain it all the time.  Additionally, you wouldn't say those things about your kids on Facebook if they were older and could read it, would you? Why is it okay to do it now?  If you are frustrated and genuinely need help and empathy, seek it out in a meaningful way.  Just be kind. Be patient. Be forgiving. Be positive.

Husbands and Wives: Stop bad-mouthing each other.  Do you know that there are people who are single and longing to someday be married, and people who've lost their most loved ones and would give anything to have another day?  Do you know that snoring is the sweetest sound in the world? Ask any widow.  Build each other up.  Encourage one another in love.  Don't take each other for granted.  Don't belittle each other's jobs, hobbies, interests, and habits.  Be kind.  Be patient.  Be forgiving.  Be positive.

I found this quote from Elisabeth Elliot in her book Let Me Be a Woman, who is, without a doubt, the most influential author of my lifetime.  It could apply not only to spouses, but to parents, siblings, and friends.
What could be a greater help to a wife than to see her husband as God sees him? God has created him, formed him, redeemed him, he is His. God is bringing him to perfection and is not by any means through with him yet. We are all unfinished, a long way from what we ought to be, but if we can look at ourselves and one another from God's point of view, we'll know where we ought to be going and in which direction our relationship should move.
We are all unfinished.


In the Meantime

The transition back into STL life has been strange for me.   On my first day back I got word that I passed my qualifying exam and I can now officially be a clinical fellow in speech language pathology as soon as I get that M.A.!  That was most welcome news, and a huge relief.

On those first few days back at my internship, I felt like a zombie.  My body was there, but my mind and heart were back on the farm with my man, my pops, and my pup.

Thankfully, I ran into all three of the people I know at Children's that week, (Jordyn, Samantha, and Heather).  Just seeing their faces, and even getting to catch a couple lunches with Miss Jordyn made me feel so much better.  As the days go on, it gets a little easier for me there and at home.

We celebrated Kyle's birthday, but it was a rather pitiful celebration by my birthday standards.  This is the first year I can remember where I did a horrible job of making the day special for him.  I didn't even write a blog post about it! Honestly, I spent much of the day in tears because I did NOT want to be here.  By the weekend, however, I was able to pull it together and (I think) make up for a bit of the downer birthday.  Part of this was making a big dinner on Easter Sunday, including salad with romaine lettuce from my garden! I was pretty proud of that, and (I think) Kyle was, too.

Happy birthday, Daddy. I wore this stupid hat for you.

Speaking of my garden, I have been spending a lot of time out there since we got home.  I am not sure if it was 10 days on the farm or just the general change in weather, but I got super motivated to clean out flower beds, plant more vegetables and flowers, and be outside as much as possible.  There is something seemingly healing about it to me.  There is a peace about it.  There is a simple assurance about it... about watching things grow, and about seeing the rewards of hard, dirty labor.  There is no other voice, nothing pulling me away from simply crying out to the Lord.  Well, nothing but an occasionally anxious, fussy puppy who wants to be tied up closer to where I'm working.

Adventures of an Urban Farm Girl and Her Trusty Sidekick.

There are about 50 other things that I NEED to be doing. Things like keeping track of my internship hours, doing laundry, editing photos for friends, etc.  So many things that should be done, things that nag at me and make me feel horribly guilty for not doing them, and yet I'm finding it impossible to get them done.  *Sigh*  My dear friend, Aileen, told me to be easy on myself, so maybe that's what I'm doing.  The bad part is that all those things aren't going away and are most likely going to come back and bite me very soon.  Oh, well.  Tomorrow is another day.


Ten Days.

That's how many days I spent on our family farm with my dad and other family members, caring for Diane, caring for each other, grieving her loss, and trying to look ahead to how our lives are forever changed.  I've learned so much in the last ten days about Jesus, suffering, sacrificial love, death, and restoration.

Death isn't the way it looks in the movies. Dying from lung cancer isn't, anyway.  It was struggle. It was labor.  It was groaning.  It was holding her up, wiping her mucus and blood, cleaning her drool, kneeling in her urine-soaked sheets, shooting meds down her throat, trying to keep her cool from all the sweat the morphine caused, keeping her calm and breathing as steadily as possible, watching her gasp for air, watching her breathing slowly fade away, seeing her go pale, and feeling her go cold.  There is no dignity in death, but there was dignity in the way she was loved, held, cleaned, and cared for.  I believe that what my dad did for days and weeks on end honored God and gave me the clearest earthly picture I've ever seen on what it means to truly love someone sacrificially and selflessly.

I never thought making a poster board would leave such and ache in my chest.

It seemed that God began to refresh and restore our hearts before Diane was even gone.  The simplest of gifts were not taken for granted, and this refreshing came in many forms.  It was a gentle breeze that blew threw the bedroom as we sweat and strained to hold her up.  It was words of encouragement from family and friends.  It was someone just sitting with us, holding her hand, rubbing our backs, sharing our tears.  There was so much food, love, and even laughter amidst all the pain.  The worse she became, the more beautiful it seemed to get outside.  Then she was gone and it seemed that over night the world was completely green, the flowers were blooming, and the sweetest, most fragrant lilacs (her favorite and mine) were blowing through the house.  People spoke beautiful words about her and hugged our necks, and then when all the struggle was done and the people were gone, we were faced with that dreaded question, "Now what?"

So many reminders of His goodness and life.

I felt an abrupt shift, and I'm certain my dad felt it more.  He had been taking care of Diane around the clock for so long, living in the chaos that is end-stage cancer, that when everything got quiet, we felt restless.  The oxygen machines and bustle of family coming and going was replaced with the quiet lull that is country living, birds singing, woodpeckers pecking, owls hooting, coyotes howling, porch swings creaking... Those are the sounds that make the farm wonderful, and some of the many things Diane always loved about home, but now they seemed a little strange.  We did all we could to keep ourselves occupied.  We even went out the next day and got my dad a new iPhone (which he is LOVING, by the way).

The restoration process has certainly only just begun, but God has given us so many beautiful and meaningful demonstrations of his goodness to us during this time, not the least of which is the gift of each other (and now, FaceTime).  I am confident that, though we may never quite be the same, He has shaped us for his glory, and we have gained much more of Him in our struggle.  I pray that as we continue to experience the pain of change, that we would be able to more fully say, "Jesus is all we need."

I have been dwelling in Philippians over the last ten days, and this passage is my greatest joy right now:
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.